DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT EMPHASISES SAFETY AND REGULATION OF INITIATION SCHOOLS FOR CHILD PROTECTION

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Social Workers with children from Child Care Youth Centres during Child Protection event in Ratanda

By Sipho Ncube

  • In an effort to reinforce the government’s commitment to safeguarding children’s rights, The Gauteng Department of Social Development, in collaboration with key stakeholders, hosted a Provincial Child Protection Programme.
  • The programme, themed “Protecting South African Children, 30 Years On,” involved children from drop-in centres across Ratanda, Emfuleni, and Midvaal municipalities, who participated in various activities and presentations.
  • Key discussions included the importance of registered initiation schools, the risks of cyberbullying, and the launch of a 24-hour call centre for gender-based violence support.

The Gauteng Department of Social Development in the Sedibeng Region, in collaboration with key stakeholders, hosted a Provincial Child Protection programme at the Ratanda Multi-Purpose Centre in Heidelberg. This programme reinforced the government’s commitment to safeguarding the constitutional rights of children, focusing on their care and protection.

The programme, themed “Protecting South African Children, 30 Years On,” included children from drop-in centres across Ratanda, Emfuleni, and Midvaal municipalities. Leading up to the event, these children participated in various activities, providing presentations and feedback which were deliberated upon by different stakeholders.

During the programme, Sergeant Mahlangu from the Local SAPS Crime Prevention Sector One emphasised the importance of ensuring that initiation schools are properly registered and compliant with local government by-laws. He stated, “Parents must ensure that any initiation school they send their children to is properly registered and adheres to local government by-laws. Your safety should always be a priority.”

Sergeant Mahlangu highlighted the dangers associated with unregistered initiation schools, noting past incidents where children suffered physical harm and food poisoning. He further indicated that while no serious crimes against children have been recently reported, the safety and protection of children remain paramount. Additionally, he warned children about the risks of cyberbullying.

The winter season marks the beginning of the initiation period in South Africa, a significant cultural tradition that transitions young males—and in some cases, females—into adulthood. This sacred rite of passage is deeply rooted in African culture.

National Child Protection Week, observed annually between the 29th of May and the 2nd of June, aims to raise awareness about children’s rights as outlined in the South African Constitution and the Children’s Act (Act No 38 of 2005). South Africa’s constitution places high importance on the rights, equality, and dignity of children, mandating protection from violence, exploitation, and abuse as per Article 28.

The Department of Social Development has also launched a pilot 24-hour call centre dedicated to providing support and counselling to victims of gender-based violence. The toll-free number to call is 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV) for assistance and counselling from a social worker, or dial 1207867# (free) from any cell phone to speak to a social worker.

Picture taken by: Kedi Dube

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